“Down and Out” features most of our protagonists in dire straits – Amos is trapped in the collapsed remains of the UN’s high-security prison, Naomi is still a captive of Marco and his crew, Alex and Bobbie are tailing a Martian supply ship they suspect of dealing in black market trade, and Holden is investigating just how compromised Tycho Station is after Fred’s death.
If there is one thing that’s true about The Expanse as a show, it’s that it knows how to ratchet up the tension. “Down and Out” just has this undercurrent of danger, even during the moments where it seems like there is nothing dangerous going on. You might not realize until later why something feels dangerous, but you can’t help but feel as though something awful is going to happen at every moment.
It’s unsurprising that Amos and Clarissa are in danger; aside from the fact they’re trapped underground after an asteroid destroyed the building, the other prisoner who was oh-so-subtly name-dropped in last week’s episode is necessary for getting everyone out. His modifications make him strong, and it’s been long enough since his last dosage of dampeners that he can access them, so they use him to pry open the panels blocking the emergency ladder in the elevator shaft. No one is all that surprised when the prison guards start dying, but Amos and the remaining guard are able to overcome Konecheck and toss him down the elevator shaft.
Naomi is at the hands of a classic narcissistic abuser; she doesn’t fall for his pretty speech because she’s well-acquainted with what kind of person Marco is, but I do not like the way he treats Filip, either. “Down and Out” gives the audience reason to suspect Filip’s loyalty to his father, but you don’t really discover this until later. Filip prevents Naomi from murdering Marco on the bridge, and he tells her that he took her to save her life. At the time, I thought he meant he was saving her from killing Marco and then being killed herself, but later we learn that Marco has had his crew sabotage the Roci. If she had returned to Tycho, she likely would have been on the ship when it exploded.
There are other things that tip Naomi off. When she approaches Marco on the bridge to kill him, it looks as though he and some of his crew are watching Tycho and the Roci on their monitors. Then Karal mentions the Gamarra Code, something that was referenced in season 4 and earlier this season when Amos passes a memorial to the Gamarra when he arrives on Luna. At great risk to herself, Naomi is able to warn Holden not to start the reactor before they throw her in a cell.
But I fully expect Drummer to be there soon to ride to her rescue. Marco has offered her a meeting, and at this point in time, it’s hard to tell which one of them has ulterior motives. Probably both, let’s be honest here.
The Roci being sabotaged is something I thought about last week, when Sakai revealed herself to be a member of Marco’s crew. After all, she’d completed most of the repairs and upgrades to the ship, and if she was secretly working against them, it’s not that surprising she would have done something to the ship. That could explain why she only shot Fred when she absolutely had the opportunity to shoot Holden as well. There was a moment after Sakai’s interrogation where she yelled at them to wait, but in the end, she just said, “See you when you get back.” You have to wonder if she had a moment of indecision about sending Holden to his death, but ultimately she chose not to save them.
There’s been some speculation about what will happen next season, considering that Cas Anvar will not be returning, and after “Down and Out”, I have to wonder if they’ll make Bull the new pilot of the Rocinante.
But really, how stupid do these people have to be that it doesn’t occur to them that the person they’re interrogating as a traitor might have done something to the ship she’s been working on for the past few months? I guess Holden was in “track down the protomolecule” mode and nothing else occurred to him. They wouldn’t have known what to scan for, but none of them even raised the suspicion. The Roci blowing up would have taken out Tycho as well.
Alex and Bobbie’s fates are currently unknown, as “Down and Out” ends on an incredible cliffhanger where their lives are certainly in the balance. Their espionage mission reveals what we already knew – that Marco’s “Free Navy” consists of Belters piloting stolen Martian ships. Unfortunately, they are discovered and must flee. Even in the razorback, they have trouble outrunning the Belters, but Alex tries one last move – dumping the reactor core. (Hey, it worked for the Enterprise.)
Something else that The Expanse always does well is the level of detail. When Alex and Bobbie are fleeing the Belters, they both do the short, hard breaths used by fighter pilots when pulling high-G maneuvers. It also looked at one point as though Bobbie was squeezing her legs together, which is something she mentioned to Chrisjen in season 3 as another way of driving circulation.
I was really expecting to see more of the aftermath and devastation of the rock hits, but I suspect that will be a big part of Chrisjen’s arc this season, and as she wasn’t in “Down and Out” I presume next week’s episode will have a focus on her.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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